Intro: This is the centenary of the birth year of American President
Franklin Delano Roosevelt. VOA's Don Weaver visited the grounds
of what is known as the "Little White House" not far from
Atlanta, Georgia and has this report.
Text: The state of Georgia obviously took great pride in the fact
that President Franklin Roosevelt loved this region so much that
he made frequent pilgrimages there to get away from the Washington
routine and enjoy supreme natural surroundings.
Actually, Roosevelt reciprocated their affection and was so struck
by the beauty of that state and its therapeutic waters that he purchased
property and built a gracious but practical residence there.
The unpretentious, three-bedroom dwelling is nestled in a thick
forest of southern pines in a rural area adjoining Warm Springs,
Georgia, a leisurely two-hour drive from the bustling metropolis
of Atlanta. Roosevelt designed the house and had it built while
still Democratic governor of New York, before he was elected president
October is an ideal time to tour the presidential grounds. The crowds
of summer vacationers have thinned and the forests, with their turning
leaves of near-Autumn, provide a stunning background for the gleaming,
freshly-painted clapboards of the "Little White House."
Here one walks through the kitchen, where a tape-recording intones
that everything is just as it was when President Roosevelt passed
away in this home, in the final year of World War II.
The pantry has its old-fashioned kitchenware and a range of very-early
model stands out. A burglar alarm system and modern fire sprinkler
jar the mood slightly.
Proceeding into the living room and study the observer is informed
that the table before the fireplace and a nearby chair mark the
place where Franklin Roosevelt was stricken with the cerebral hemorrhage
that took his life.
He loved the sea and the surroundings reflect that, with paintings
of ships displayed here and there. On a mantel is a sailing ship
model, pieced together by Roosevelt and a Secret Service agent who
shared some relaxing moments with the chief executive.
The visitor is shown through the president's bedroom, where he spent
his final moments before succumbing to the attack, about two hours
after its onslaught. The décor is spare, the furnishings
not lavish, indicative of the some work-some play purposes at hand.
Strolling through the house, a nearby museum and even the garage,
one is struck by the spirit of Roosevelt-an indomitable man who
refused to permit a crippling attack of polio to daunt his determined
plunge into public service and politics.
A blue 1938 Ford Phaeton convertible looks ready to roll out of
the garage onto the driveway. Its clutch and brakes were fitted
with hand controls at a nearby machine shop so he could personally
drive around country roads with the top down.
In his summer home, a short crop used for horseback riding escapades
is exhibited, along with the dog chain he used for restraining his
famous Scotch terrier, Fala.
The museum, actually a large house once owned by a neighbor but
now part of the Roosevelt shrine, boasts a wide variety of objects
that mark the activities and career of this most unusual man. There's
one of his wheelchairs, scores of his walking canes, the saddle
he used for horseback riding and photos of cabinet ministers and
There are pictures of admirers and presidents, such as Democratic
campaigner Jimmy Carter of the state of Georgia and a famous Massachusetts
Democrat, Senator John Kennedy, who campaigned through Georgia in
One of the reasons for Roosevelt's constant visits to Warm Springs
was the exercise and therapy of the spa's waters. President Roosevelt
took particular delight in inviting children, stricken with the
dread disease of polio before modern medicine curbed its ravages,
to swim and play water games with him. Films show him reveling in
such exercise, playing an energetic game of water polo. It's hard
to judge who is enjoying the game more, the beaming, splashing president
or the youngsters. He participated in award ceremonies for crippled
His weak limbs failed to phase or embarrass this courageous man--one
film series shows him wearing leg braces and sitting on the ground,
participating vibrantly in a picnic in the woods, one of his special
Franklin Roosevelt's exuberance, his zest for life and his massive
political skills are an inspiration for all peoples. An American
politician had to be greatly gifted to become the only man elected
U.S. president four times. He was a symbol of hope to the people
of many nations during World War II. And even before that, he inaugurated
policies that gave jobs and a future to millions of unemployed and
disadvantaged Americans during the Great Depression of the 1930's.
To accomplish so much in the face of the physical adversity that
struck so hard, and to rise above it so nobly, is a measure of the
heart and will of a unique American. It can be sensed and appreciated
at the "Little White House" at Warm Springs, Georgia.